The 2nd generation of the Samsung Gear 360 is a fairly significant upgrade over its predecessor. Bringing “true” 4K video recording capacity and live-streaming capabilities – the Gear 360 (2017) has a whole host of new and exciting functionality, as well as a much appreciated design change! I’ve been testing this innovative little device as part of a planned project at work – so it’s useful to know that the Gear 360 has application both personally and professionally!
- 2 x 8.4 Megapixel (ƒ/2.2) lenses
- Video resolution (MP4 H.265 (HEVC)): Dual Lens (360˚): up to 4096 x 2048 (24fps) | Single Lens: up to 1920 x 1080 (60fps)
- Image resolution (JPEG): Dual Lens (360˚): up to 15MP (5472 x 2736) | Single Lens: up to 3MP (2304 x 1296)
- Battery capacity: 1,160mAh
- Storage: Supports up-to 256GB MicroSD
- Connectivity: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi | Wi-Di | Bluetooth v4.1 | USB 2.0 (Type-C)
- Weight: 130g (4.59oz)
- Splash and dust resistant (IP53)
- Compatible with a wide range of devices, from Android to iOS devices as well as apps for Windows and Mac
- Ability to live-stream!
Gear 360 design change
The 2017 Gear 360 (UK/US) marks a pretty significant change in design when compared to the original Gear 360. The 1st Gen Gear 360 was sold simply as the camera head but had a small tripod included in the box that could be mounted to the bottom to form a makeshift handle. Whilst the 2nd gen Gear 360 makes up for this, with a design that incorporates the entire package into a single, streamlined and attractive product – it does, unfortunately feature a bit of a drop in specification (when looking at a spec sheet – more on this later!).
Personally, I think the newer 2nd Gen is more attractive. Everyone will have a different opinion, but I feel that the newer model looks and feels as if it has had a little more thought put into it during design, rather than “here’s a camera…. but how do we hold it?”.
Chances are, if you’re into tech, photography, videography or even sporting – you’ll have read the spec. sheet before the Gear 360 was released earlier this year. You probably also noticed that, when compared to the 1st Gen Gear 360, the 2nd Gen model appears to have dropped in spec! The following table details the specification differences between the 1st and 2nd Gen models:
|Feature||Gear 360 2016 (1st Gen)||Gear 360 2016 (2nd Gen)|
|Lenses||2 x 15.0MP||2 x 8.4MP|
|Video res (dual)||3840 x 1920 at 30 fps||4096 x 2048 (24fps)|
|Video res (single)||2560×1440 (24fps)||1920 x 1080 (60fps)|
|Still res (dual)||15MP||5472 x 2736|
|Still res (single)||8.4MP||2304 x 1296|
|Battery capacity||1,350 mAh||1,160 mAh|
|Storage||Up to 128GB via MicroSD||Up to 256GB via MicroSD|
|Connectivity||802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.5GHz/5GHz)
USB 2.0 (MicroUSB)
|802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.5GHz/5GHz)
USB 2.0 (Type-C)
|Size||66.7 x 56.2 x 60 mm (H x W x D)||100.6 x 46.3 x 45.1mm (H x W x D)|
Despite this drop in spec, the newer model is definitely an upgrade when compared to the older model. The newer Gear 360 is noticeably lighter and much nicer to hold. The newer model has also added some extra, bonus features – such as image stabilisation, live-streaming, higher resolution video capture at 360˚ and support for significantly higher memory cards! Some are disappointed by the exclusion of NFC from the later model, but in all honesty… I don’t think there’s a huge amount of benefit. Once you’re initially connected – you’ll likely never use it again! Not only that – but dropping support for NFC has clearly allowed Samsung to slim down the device as well as lower the battery capacity while keeping uptime up.
- Landscape HDR – Multiple still photos are captured back to back at various exposures and “stitched” together, to improved image dynamic range.
- Looping Video – Similar to a dashcam, the looping video function never stops recording. The camera will record over existing video stored on the MicroSD card, when the MicroSD is full.
- Little Planet – Whilst Little Planet is nothing new – the 2nd Gen Gear 360 shows you a Little Planet preview before you actually capture the photo! You can even “live edit” it before you capture the image!
- Live-streaming – Incredibly quick and easy to use: pair the Gear 360 with your smartphone or PC, choose a platform to stream to (e.g. Facebook, YouTube etc.), and you’re off!
Unboxing, setup and installation
The Gear 360 (2017) box was significantly smaller than I was expecting. Opening the box and finding such a dainty device was the second surprise! The Gear 360 fits well in the hand, is light-weight and incredibly intuitive to use, with buttons placed perfectly for on-the-go usage!
The camera is packed in amongst solid foam and is ‘wedged’ in perfectly. I’ve had no worry transporting the camera back-and-forth from various locations, in the box in my backpack. The included USB Type-C cable, carry pouch and wrist strap are definitely a welcomed inclusion.
The Gear 360 app is a quick and simple download from the iOS App Store and Google Play Store. At this point, it’s worth noting that this device is compatible with the following phones, in terms of using/controlling it via the app:
- Galaxy S8
- S7 edge
- S6 edge+
- S6 edge
- A5 (2017)
- A7 (2017)
- iPhone 7
You can, however, still use the camera in a “point-and-shoot” manner, without the “live view” on the app and the extra functionality the app provides if you do not have/use one of the aforementioned phones. Back to the app: No user accounts required – straight into the device setup guide (connecting to the device’s built in Wi-Fi) and off you go! Looking specifically at the iOS app (as my daily-driver is an iPhone 7 Plus – as mentioned in my recent “Everyday Carry” post), you have three options which are essentially (not the actual name for each option, but the best description!) Capture, Review and Configure. If you’re an Android user (one of the above phones), you’ll have an extra option for “Live-Streaming”.
The capture functionality essentially replicates smartphone camera functionality. It’s incredibly intuitive to use, especially if you’ve ever taken a picture on your phone!
You can view images captured and saved to both your phone as well as the images and video stored on the Gear 360. All transfer is done via the direct Wi-Fi connection.
Check and update firmware, gallery settings and various other application/camera functions.
For just under £200 ($200), Samsung’s latest offering is pretty solid. If you head over to threesixtycameras.com, you’ll see that they’ve given the camera a 3 star rating – giving a fairly mid-level rating. I’d recommend waiting a couple of months before running out and purchasing one as this will allow time for any firmware based niggles to be ironed out and new software features to be added across a wider range of smartphones. With 4K recording capabilities, 15MP 360˚ stills and live-streaming at 2K resolution, I personally think this is one of the better offerings on the market at the moment – despite my lack of reference points (definitely going to delve deeper into the 360 market). The one thing I’m not impressed with though is the fact that only the supported Android phones get the Live-Streaming functionality, with no explanation provided as to why this is not included on the iOS devices. Last I checked… live-streaming directly to various platforms didn’t require any extra/bespoke hardware?
Samsung website: http://www.samsung.com/
Samsung Gear 360 product page: http://www.samsung.com/global/galaxy/gear-360/